Tis the season to be jolly. But not even the prospect of wallowing in a bath of mince pies and brandy could make me feel charitable about Accidental Farmer.
Ashley Jensen, so excellent in Ricky Gervais's Extras and Ugly Betty, has hit the buffers hard with this pitiful affair, which has no original DNA and not much in the way of comedy, drama or believability.
Jensen - playing Erin the high-flying ad executive who decides she wants a family only to find a naked woman in her boyfriend's wardrobe - exerts revenge by buying a farm with her ex's credit card. As you do. Less likely still, she decides she wants to be a farmer.
Cue scriptwriter cliche hell. There was just one good line. When discussing what to name a pig, a child pipes up with: 'Peter Andre?' That elicited a snort. From me, not the pig.Paul Connolly, Daily Mail, 24th December 2010
Although well performed, the whole thing was so deeply, deeply unoriginal it was hard not to groan at every creaky plot twist. It'll probably run for five series.Andrea Mullaney, The Scotsman, 23rd December 2010
Comedy drama pilot starring Ashley Jensen wins slot, beating ITV1 docusoap The Savoy.John Plunkett, The Guardian, 22nd December 2010
Thanks to her winning, albeit subsidiary, turns in Extras and Ugly Betty, Ashley Jensen has a lot of goodwill on her side. There's something intrinsically endearing about that warm Scottish burr and mildly dappy demeanour, something that can lend a patina of believability to the flimsiest of material.
And flimsy is where we certainly were with Accidental Farmer (BBC1), a barn conversion of a bucolic frolic that wouldn't have got planning permission from even the most corrupt of councils, such was the stockpile of stereotypes from which it was constructed. Horsey types, Hooray Henrys and flat-capped whippet chasers - we were in Yorkshire - galloped across the paddock with shameless disregard for anything resembling credible characterisation.
The set-up has Jensen playing London high-flyer Erin, a wronged woman who, rather than go down the traditional shirt-ripping route, takes vengeance on her cheating, charm-free ex by snapping up a farm on the internet using his credit card. As you do. What follows is pretty much your standard culture-clash trash, the sophisticated but shallow city butting heads with the off-trend but curiously comforting country. All about as subtle as the whiff of cow dung in a summer heatwave.
Yet, thanks to Jensen's engaging air of perpetual bafflement, there's something about Erin that lifts her out of the rut she's been ploughed into. There's a hint that this could be the start of a journey to belated self-awareness. Then again, it could be just another rubbish comedy drama pilot, a turkey sneaked in ahead of Christmas that will never trouble us again. I'm sitting on the pointy fence on this one and enjoying it rather more than necessary.Keith Watson, Metro, 22nd December 2010
Ashley Jensen is a very likeable actress. She has a knack for comedy, plays the awkward, clumsy roles brilliantly and is a lady in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. Which makes her decision to sign up for this plodding, predictable and tedious guff a very odd one indeed...Steve Charnock, Orange TV, 22nd December 2010
I wasn't exactly expecting The Lakes, but this was beyond awful. And I am pretty tolerant when it comes to rubbish TV.Emma Cave, Brighton Argus, 22nd December 2010
It is the season of goodwill, I am aware. So, let us place all necessary aides for attaining this desirable state within easy reach - mulled wine, mince pie, Quality Street highlights of your choice - and muster all the warm festive glow we can before turning to Accidental Farmer (BBC1). This was an hour-long comedy drama, the pilot for a potential series, about an urban sophisticate, who, after finding a young, naked lady crouching in her boyfriend's wardrobe when she returns early from work, goes on a drunken online spending spree with his credit card and buys a rundown farm. Narked by the howls of derision that greet the idea of her keeping the farm and becoming a farmer, she decides to... keep the farm and become a farmer.
On the upside, it stars Ashley Jensen, an actor whose chops and comic timing have been famously and repeatedly proven in international hits such as Ugly Betty and Extras. On the downside, her innate warmth and permanently anxious, vulnerable air make her an odd choice to play Erin, a hard-edged advertising executive. More importantly, even the best comic actor needs decent set-ups and lines to keep a comedy drama together, and Accidental Farmer plodded through a series of sub-Cold Comfort Farm/Darling Buds of May cliches slower than a Gloucester Old Spot through mud.
See Erin climb over fences wearing impractical high-heeled shoes on her first trip to Appley Farm (a name indicative of such a dearth of imagination that it should have sent up warning flares in the minds of any early script reader - I'm sorry, another orange crunch please)! Watch her gaze in horror and whip out the sanitising hand gel as protection against the honest, Yorkshire muck around her! See yokels discover she is single and assume she is a lesbian! And finally, yes, watch her - whoa, whoa, whoops, there she goes! - fall into a giant mud patch.
There's also a sitting, spitting tenant - octogenarian Olive - to deal with, a dishy vet (whom she at first mistakes for a doctor, can you believe?!) and a doctor who has secret, dastardly plans to buy the farm and turn it into a hotel. But I suspect, by this point, you probably knew that.
With a lot of work on the script and a lot more mince pies and mulled wine thrown down my gullet, it might have the potential for a cosy Darling Buds of - nyygh - Appley Farm-type Sunday teatime offering. But as it stands, it was a comedy drama without an awful lot of either.Lucy Mangan, The Guardian, 22nd December 2010
After her stints on US sitcoms Ugly Betty and Accidentally On Purpose, Ashley Jensen is back on UK soil - in every sense.
In this comedy pilot, she stars as Erin, a high-flying control freak advertising executive whose perfect life unravels when she discovers her boyfriend is a cheating git. Drunk, hurt and in possession of his credit card, she buys herself a run-down farm in Yorkshire. As you do.
Initially, a hungover Erin wants to get out of the purchase, but when her ex mocks her ability to make it as a farmer, she decides to prove him wrong. Armed with designer wellies and hand sanitiser, she heads for a new life in the country and, hey presto, another duck-out-of-water comedy is born.
It's a slow start, not helped by the fact that Erin is a horrible cow (of the human variety). But when she meets her new octogenarian sitting tenant, Olive, things quickly pick up. Joined by a cute comedy piglet and stereotypical TV country types (bar Olive, who is wonderfully refreshing) Erin becomes softer and more likeable and the overall result turns out to be a rather jolly show.
Even so, this pilot shows promise so don't be surprised if the Beeb commissions a full series.Jane Simon, The Mirror, 21st December 2010
Ashley Jensen plays an advertising executive who moves to the country for a variety of reasons. It's a fish-out-of-water comedy/drama. Not that it's dramatic. Or comedic. In fact, watching one of your poor little pet goldfish flailing wildly and slowly dying on your living room carpet alongside your crying infant children is funnier than this. And that's not funny at all, is it? Do you see what we're saying here?TV Bite, 21st December 2010
There's nothing like a bit of retail therapy to cheer the blues away, especially when you discover your boyfriend is cheating on you. However when that happens in this comedy drama, Ashley Jensen doesn't log onto her computer and head straight to Net-A-Porter like most women with an ounce of sense, but instead buys a run down farm in Yorkshire. Righty-ho. Cue plenty of city girl stuck-in-the-country style jokes.Sky, 21st December 2010